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Druze draft refuser sent to Israeli military prison, put in solitary

Druze-Arab men, unlike other Arab citizens of Israel, are subject to the same mandatory conscription as Jewish Israelis. Kamal Zidan is refusing because of his Palestinian identity.

Kamal Zidan, an Arab-Druze citizen of Israel, presented himself at the Israeli army’s Tel HaShomer induction based last Sunday and declared that he refuses to be conscripted into the IDF. Zidan, whose refusal is based on his Palestinian identity, was sentenced on the spot to five days in military prison by an administrative tribunal.

Unlike Muslim and Christian Arab citizens of Israel, Druze men are subject to mandatory military conscription just like Jewish Israelis.

“The chances of getting exempt from service are not high, and he is expected to be jailed again,” said Yaman Zidan, Kamal’s lawyer and father. Other refusers have spent months in prison, sentenced to anywhere from a five to 30 days at a time.

Yaman, who has two brothers that died during their military service, is one of the founders of the Urfod Movement, which advocates for draft refusal among Druze citizens in Israel. Yaman himself refused to serve, and now, his son is following his footsteps.

During his week in military prison, Zidan says he was kept in harsh conditions, including being placed in solitary confinement. Upon his release, he was told to return to the induction base at the end of the Passover holiday next week.

“They put him in solitary confinement with surveillance cameras filming 24 hours a day, because he’s refusing all orders. He’s refusing to salute the officers and commanders that enter his cell,” said Yaman, the father.

“I’m not a soldier, so don’t treat me as one,” Kamal added.

The constant surveillance is a blatant violation of privacy, Kamal and his father said. Furthermore, Kamal described having to sleep on a bare mattress because no sheets were provided to him.

He said was allowed to bring only one book into the cell. During the day, he was forbidden from laying on the bed, he added, and the light in his cell was kept on throughout the night, which made it hard to fall asleep.

“If he lays on the bed, they go in and force him up. Once, they even took away his mattress as punishment. There was another case in which he was handcuffed for laying down. They want him to sit in the same position...

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Let's stop talking about a false 'Jewish-Arab partnership'

By creating symmetry between Israelis and Arabs, Jews on the left are not only missing the bigger picture — they are actively taking part in erasing the Palestinian struggle. 

By Rami Younis and Orly Noy

The sad state of the “left-wing camp” was clear long before the final results of the Israeli elections were published last week. Without skipping a beat, the ritual of declaring what is wrong with the left — and how to fix it — began.

Among the more popular of those suggestions was the cure-all “Jewish-Arab partnership” potion. The prescription sounds so ideologically correct and politically necessary that any criticism of it is often interpreted as jaded pedantry at best. And yet, it’s worth taking a more thorough look at the essence of that partnership.

Invisible Jewish hegemony

More than just expressing an aspiration for equality, the idea of Jewish-Arab partnership assumes symmetry. In that sense, it is a slightly updated version of the concept of “coexistence,” which has turned into somewhat of a curse word in the peace camp in recent years — and for good reason. It’s not that we oppose the idea of coexistence but rather that we have come to understand that coexistence doesn’t reflect distorted power relations between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians. It has become too comfortable of an expression to be used by those for whom the only coexistence they know is the kind between a horse and its rider.

It’s safe to assume that those calling for “Jewish-Arab partnership” don’t want that foolish type of coexistence, yet they benefit from the same imagined, dangerous sense of symmetry. It is no coincidence that Jewish-Ashkenazi men are those who typically lead those calls for partnership. Likewise, it is not merely symbolic that talk of Jewish-Arab partnership almost always puts Jewish before Arab, reflecting the invisible Jewish hegemony that forms the bedrock of the very concept.

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The same asymmetry can be found in the unofficial slogan of the people and movements pushing partnership as the answer: “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.” The importance of the oppressed refusing to be the enemy of his or her oppressor should not be diminished. But the oppressor needs to be asked something entirely different: he or she must refuse to lord over the oppressed. That cannot be accomplished in a reality of false symmetry.

That stands true not just for ethical reasons...

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Everywhere you go in Gaza, you see people wounded in the Return March

Hasan al-Kurd, one of the organizers of last year’s Great March of Return in Gaza, says the protests gave people in Gaza a reason to live. In a frank interview, he talks about the shocking number of casualties, how Hamas took over the nonviolent initiative, and what he would do differently today.

“This is kind of like our anniversary,” I say to Hasan al-Kurd, one of the organizers of the Great March of Return in Gaza. “It is,” al-Kurd chuckles, “I never expected that we’d still be going for a full year.”

The first time Hasan and I spoke was on the eve of the Great March of Return,. Al-Kurd had wanted to send a message of peace to Israelis. A year later, despite admitting that things turned violent far quicker the organizers expected, he says he still believes in nonviolence.

The optimism that came through the phone line in that first interview was replaced this time by a sense of depression. According to figures released by the United Nations this week, since the protests began last March 30th, Israeli forces have shot and killed 195 participants, including 41 children. More than 29,000 protesters were injured or wounded, more than half of them by Israeli gunfire. Some estimate even higher numbers.

Al-Kurd says he didn’t think it the casualty figures would get so high.

“I thought we would hold the march for a month or two. That they’re still going is nothing short of astonishing,” he says. “It only goes to prove that we can continue this struggle forever, and I say that despite the fact that one of our only accomplishments is that we gave people in Gaza a reason to live.”

On Saturday, March 30, when Palestinians mark Land Day and a year since the protestsbegan, demonstrators are expected to come back in large numbers. Al-Kurd and the other original organizers openly admit that Hamas is calling the shots today. That bothers them.

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Over the course of our interview, al-Kurd expresses his concerns about high numbers of Palestinian casualties. On the opening day of the protests last year, Israeli troops killed 14 Palestinians. A month and a half later, on May 14, Israeli snipers killed 68 protesters. According to the original plan, the Great March of Return was supposed to be a family...

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'The entire world knows the settlers have declared war on us'

In the occupied West Bank, Palestinians living near extremist settlements have been seeing a drastic increase in violence. Israeli authorities refuse to take responsibility, while the villagers are left to fend for themselves.

By Rami Younis and Oren Ziv

This past year was, by all accounts, a difficult one for Palestinians living near settlements in the West Bank. According to data provided by the Palestinian Authority’s Wall and Settlement Resistance Committee, 2018 saw 614 settler attacks against Palestinians, ranging from property damage to stone throwing and lethal assault.

This constitutes an increase of 217 percent compared to the previous year; 2017 saw 284 incidents of assault, while the PA recorded 255 such incidents in 2016. As of early March, the committee documented 125 assaults — an average of more than two incidents per day.

The attacks, once referred to as “price tag attacks,” are committed by extremist Jewish youth from settlements and outposts across the West Bank. Their goal is to exact a price from Palestinians for actions Israeli authorities take against the settlers, usually building enforcement in illegally built settlements. The attacks are sporadic and difficult to combat in real time.

Settler violence has steadily increased since the middle of last December, when Asam Barghouti stepped out of his car and opened fire at a group of soldiers and civilians waiting along Road 60 at the entrance to the settlement outpost of Givat Assaf. Two soldiers were killed in the attack, and another soldier and a civilian were wounded. Following the incident, far-right MK Bezalel Smotrich tweeted: “If there are terror attacks, we won’t have Arabs on the roads.”

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Meanwhile, settlers from across the West Bank set off on a campaign of revenge. In the 24 hours following the Givat Assaf shooting, Israeli anti-occupation organization Yesh Din recorded attacks in 28 locations across the West Bank, from the Nablus area in the north to Hebron in the south. Ever since , Palestinians have been reporting an increase in settler violence. The main victims are those living next to Route 60, and particularly in villages near the settlement of Yitzhar — known for its extremism — and the settlement outposts around Shiloh, northeast of Ramallah.

It is difficult to obtain data from the Israeli side. Most incidents are not reported or are designated by the army as “confrontations” (in many cases the army arrives at the site after the settlers...

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'In Balata camp, every single child suffers from psychological problems'

Yafa Cultural Center is one of the few places left for Palestinian children from Balata refugee camp to cope with the violence they witness on a daily basis. With funding running low, the center is at risk of closing.

When the door opens, I am surprised to see a six or seven-year-old boy on the other side. “Can I sign up for karate classes, uncle?”

“Yes, come on Saturday, there will be an instructor,” answers Ibrahim Jammal. The boy asks if he needs to bring anything. “As always, habibi, you don’t need to bring a thing.”

Although he tries to appear optimistic, my meeting with with Jammal, 34, one of the main organizers at the Yafa Cultural Center at Balata refugee camp near Nablus, takes place at a difficult moment.

The community center, one of the largest in the camp, is under threat of closing. At its peak, it served as a home for over a thousand children and teenagers, providing them with a range of activities and programs. With the start of the new year, the number of workers decreased from 25 to 17. By May, when the center’s main source of funding is expected to cut off, the number might fall to eight. All the employees are Balata residents. The center is planning on maintaining a small number of staff members to operate Yafa’s mental health unit.

Yafa Cultural Center was established by a number of local organizers in 1996 as part of a local initiative Jammal said was meant to “protect the right of return.” Funding comes primarily from a German political foundation, the Danish parliament, and the European Union.

Now the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), which supports international development and education initiatives, has announced it can no longer support the center. Its bylaws, subject to German law, prevent it from supporting any project for more than nine years.

“Once we were able to organize at least seven summer camps a year,” Jammal says. “Last summer we only had three. I can only accept 300 children from the camp. Our door is always open, but I can’t expect employees to come to work if we cannot pay them.”

Hana is one of those employees. She lives in the camp with her older sister, who suffers from an eye disease, and her husband, who hasn’t been able to work ever since he suffered a stroke 13 years ago. The...

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The Palestinian struggle is shifting to a civil rights movement, and Gaza is leading the way

The Great Return March signals a shift for the Palestinian people, says scholar Tareq Baconi. Palestinians are no longer fighting for a state, and are increasingly demanding their full rights — primarily the right of return.

The leaders of the Great Return March surprised the world when they organized the first demonstration along the Israel-Gaza fence on March 30, 2018. Tens of thousands of Palestinians participated. Already in the inaugural protest, Israeli snipers opened fire; they killed 14 Palestinians and wounded around 1,200 more.

The protests turned into a weekly demonstration as tens of thousands of Gazans showed up along the fence every Friday. The Israeli army continued to fire at them. The leaders of the marches, a group of about 20 activists, mostly secular or left-leaning, tried as best as they could to prevent people from getting too close to the fence. Hamas, which originally provided logistical support that contributed to the success of the protests (namely, commutes and publicity), slowly started to play a more significant role in the marches.

Hamas forced its way into the Great Return March and may have taken over the protests, but without Hamas, Gaza wouldn’t have been able to ease the blockade as much. Hamas is a political force that can deal with Israel in a manner that neither Fatah nor the Palestinian Authority is capable of.

This is the assessment according to Tareq Baconi, a young Palestinian intellectual and researcher, previously a member of the European Council for Foreign Relations and currently an analyst with International Crisis Group. He is one of the most knowledgeable experts on the Hamas. Baconi’s new book, Hamas Contained: The Rise and Pacification of Palestinian Resistance, explores Hamas’ transition from armed struggle to popular resistance.

I spoke with Baconi about one of the most significant stories of 2018 — the marches for return in Gaza. A lot has been said about Hamas’ involvement, if not takeover, of the movement that began as a popular protest.

Palestinians in Gaza are critical of Hamas’ religious coercion, its intervention in the everyday lives of residents, and its hostility with Fatah. Israeli media likes to show the people of Gaza accusing Hamas of the siege, of poverty and of casualties following Israeli strikes, but this is not the case.

Baconi, the son of Palestinian refugees from Haifa and Jerusalem, was raised in Amman and currently lives in Ramallah. In our conversation, he did not...

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'Israeli authorities treat gun violence in our community as an Arab problem'

Israeli police estimate that there are hundreds of thousands of illegal guns among Palestinian citizens of Israel, a community suffering from under-policing and high levels of violence. Are the guns the problem? And what can be done about it?

The Palestinian community in Israel has been experiencing an ongoing wave of violence for some years now. In the past week alone, seven people were killed in Kafr Qasim, Acre, Jaffa, and Lyd. The killings tend to rob Palestinians in Israel their sense of personal security, and guns have become so pervasive, that at times it feels like anyone could be the next victim.

“When you see that 70 Arabs get killed every year on average, of which 15-20 are women, you can’t help but feel depressed,” said Meissa Irshaid, an attorney with the Gun-Free Kitchen Tables Campaign, a coalition of women’s organizations working to eliminate gun violence.

The organization has been researching the sources of guns in the Palestinian community in Israel. What they found is that most illegal firearms in Israel are actually registered to the army. According to Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, 90 percent of illegal firearms in the north of Israel can be traced back to the military.

Gun Free Kitchen Tables started keeping track of the numbers of firearms in public spaces, and whether they are monitored by authorities. First, they researched how many legal firearms are registered. In the process, they discovered that law enforcement authorities don’t have accurate numbers, only estimations.

“The Department of Firearm Licensing at the Public Security Ministry is responsible for firearm registration, but they couldn’t provide accurate data. So we started conducting meticulous research ourselves,” explained Irshaid.

“We found several internal contradictions and gaps in the data provided by the various authorities. If law enforcement can’t keep track of how many firearms are circulating, imagine what’s going on out there illegally,” she added.

According to Irshaid, there are around 300,000 registered firearms in Israel, and they are mostly owned by law enforcement and Jewish citizens. In 2013, police estimated there are around 400,000 unlicensed guns in Israel, and that most of them are owned by Palestinians citizens.

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Tasers to the face: How the Israeli Navy seized latest Gaza flotilla

Activists describe violence and threats by Israeli naval commandos in international waters. Right-wing organization attempts to take ownership of the boat.

The Israeli Navy seized a fishing boat attempting to break the siege on Gaza Sunday. According to activists on board, naval commandos tasered the boat’s first officer in his face, punched another crew member in the face, and threatened the life of the captain.

There were 22 participants and crew members aboard “Al Awda,” “The Return” in Arabic. The Norwegian boat was one of several ships this summer attempting to break the siege and bring aid to Gaza, an effort that has taken place yearly for nearly a decade.

“We started to receive radio messages on Sunday,” recalled Zohar Regev, one of two Israeli participants onboard the ship. “We responded that we are a Norwegian ship exercising its right to sail in international waters.”

Several hours later, Israeli Navy Zodiac boats approached the ship and Israeli commandos, dressed in all white uniforms complete with white ski-masks, boarded with tasers drawn. Most of the participants attempted to create a human chain and nonviolently block the naval commandos’ access to the ship’s bridge with their bodies, according to the activsts.

The naval commandos tased First Officer Charlie Andreasson in his face, Yonatan Shapira, the second Israeli activist onboard the ship said, adding that the activists did not resist violently. The Israeli sailors also punched the ship’s mechanic in the face, and tasered two others onboard, including a 60-year-old from New Zealand, according to Shapira.

“They slammed Herman the captain’s head against the wall again and again, while threatening to take him to the ship’s belly and finish him off when no one is watching,” Shapira recalled.

“We knew that we weren’t going to break the siege, and that wasn’t the purpose,” Shapira explained. “The aim was international pressure. The goal was to wake and encourage other activists — who suddenly see all these people on a simple fishing boat sailing to Gaza — to mobilize and help out.”

Israeli naval forces towed the boat, which it seized in international waters, to Ashdod and turned all of the activists over to Israeli police. The two Israelis were threatened with charges of aiding the enemy, trying to enter Gaza, and conspiring to commit a crime, said Shapira, although the first accusation was dropped by the time they were released.

...
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The changing relationship between Palestinians on either side of the wall

Despite physical separation and internal divisions, Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line are once again talking about the future of their struggle, and the role that Palestinian citizens of Israel can play.

Out of sight from most of the Israeli public, yet under the close watch of the government, an internal debate has been raging within Palestinian society about the devastating effects of the physical separation and internal divisions plaguing Palestinians.

Two recent protests, one in Haifa in solidarity with Gaza and another in Ramallah against the Palestinian Authority’s role in the siege — in which Palestinian citizens of Israel also participated — helped reinvigorated the conversation about the relationship between Palestinians on both sides of the separation wall and the role of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the struggle against the occupation.

Dr. Huneida Ghanem, who runs Madar — The Palestinian Center for Israeli Studies, has been studying this issue for years. In her research, Ghanem, who divides her time between Israel and Ramallah, has found that despite the divisions, most Palestinians agree on several main points: the division between them was forced on them, that it weakens them, and that it allows Israel to more easily control them.

The divisions do not begin and end with the wall and the occupation. For years, Fatah and Hamas have been unable to reconcile, despite the pleas of their people. Palestinians inside Israel face divisions of their own, including along religious lines, political disputes, and geographic differences that beget cultural gaps.

All these factors have, over the years, created distinct political, social and economic situations for each community, which has led to different needs and problems that require different approaches and policies. As a result, according to Ghanem, each group has developed its own political program to deal with the occupation.

In the occupied territories, the struggle focuses on establishing a state through both violent and nonviolent means, including popular struggle and the BDS movement. Those in the West Bank focus on settlements and apartheid; in Gaza the focus is on the hardships created by the siege, as well as the violence and destruction wrought by wars with Israel every few years and the rebuilding between the violence.

Palestinian citizens of Israel are fighting for equal citizenship through political parties and extra-parliamentary organizations, focusing mostly on discrimination and racist laws. And outside of Palestine, millions of refugees are struggling for the right to return to...

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The night the Palestinian Authority showed us whose side it is on

The violence meted out by PA forces against Palestinian demonstrators Wednesday night was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. When it was all over, one thing became clear: the PA isn’t a subcontractor of the occupation, they are in lock step.

Having just witnessed her friend’s arrest, and frustrated by her failure to prevent it, a young activist stood in front of a line of police officers, defenseless, and instinctively shouted, “With spirit, with blood, we’ll redeem you Gaza.” Members of the Palestinian security forces, dressed in civilian clothes, knocked her to the ground. Two policemen joined in and began kicking the bleeding, terrified woman.

This was just one of the many scenes of violence meted out by the Palestinian Authority’s security forces against Palestinian demonstrators who had gathered in the center of Ramallah Wednesday night to demand an end to the PA’s sanctions against Gaza. It was the second such demonstration in the span of a week.

The first demonstration, on Sunday, was relatively uneventful, but on Wednesday the PA’s response was severe: police arrested 69 activists, some of whom were arrested after the protest while they were receiving treatment for their wounds in the hospital. Security forces attacked journalists, women, the elderly, and bystanders, confiscating and breaking cameras and phones. Meanwhile, groups of Fatah youth dressed in civilian clothes infiltrated the protest and meted out their own violence.

The trip to Ramallah, on a bus carrying activists from Haifa, went smoothly. But upon our arrival at Manara Square, we found an unexpectedly large number of Palestinian security forces: hundreds of armed, uniformed security forces — some in police uniforms, some special forces, others in military uniforms with balaclavas covering their faces. Everyone there that night understood that there were also members of secret police — dressed in civilian clothes — circulating among the demonstrators.

The police had preemptively declared the demonstration illegal the previous morning. According to the PA, the reason was “the desire not to disturb the residents of the city in their preparation for the upcoming Iftar celebration.” The protest was supposed to start at 9:30 p.m., but police prevented demonstrators from gathering in the square. Then suddenly, the police moved with great force toward one of the streets that split off from the square, and began firing stun grenades and tear gas toward the protesters.

I took out my phone...

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Palestinians in Ramallah protest PA sanctions on Gaza

Thousands of Palestinians demonstrate in central Ramallah, calling for Mahmoud Abbas’ ouster in the face of the Palestinian Authority’s sanctions on the Gaza Strip. Protest organizers say this is only the beginning.

Palestinian protesters marched through the streets of central Ramallah on Sunday to demand that the Palestinian Authority put an end to its sanctions against Gaza, and called for an end to the siege on the Strip.

The protest, organized by local left-wing activists unaffiliated with any specific parties, focused on PA President Mahmoud Abbas. The demonstrators marched from Manara Square in the city center while chanting “Get out, get out Abbas,” along with chants of support for the residents of Gaza.

Upon circling back to Manara Square, the demonstrators say they were surprised to find two anti-Hamas posters. The posters decried the “Hamas coup” in 2007 as the “source of all trouble,” and boasted of the $17 million spent by the PA on Gaza since Hamas took over the Strip.

Despite various reconciliation deals between Fatah and Hamas, and the establishment of a Palestinian unity government in January 2017, since April of last year the Palestinian Authority has placed severe sanctions on the Gaza Strip, including by refusing to pay for the electricity supply from Israel; refusing to pay the tax on diesel intended for Gaza’s power plants, leading to a major electricity crisis; cutting salaries of the PA staff in the Strip, as well as a plan to force PA officials into early retirement; refusing to guarantee medical treatment for seriously ill patients who asked to leave the Strip in order reach hospitals in Israel or the West Bank.

Palestinian police did not arrest a single protester, but journalist Yara Hawari, who was at the demonstration on Sunday, noted “it is possible that they will begin arresting activists in the coming days.”

Arresting protesters that night, Hawari continued, would have would have likely led to an escalation. “The police acted wisely, after all, they do not want to resemble the Israeli police,” she explained, referencing the violent arrests of political activists in Haifa three weeks ago.

But why are they protesting only now? The Great Return March has been ongoing for two-and-a-half months

“This is what the activists in Haifa were wondering: where is Ramallah? Remember that organizing demonstrations requires laying the groundwork for bringing people into the streets. People...

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Gaza's protest leaders still believe in nonviolent struggle

Despite the bloodletting in Gaza over the past months, the leaders of the Great Return March believe that nonviolent resistance is still the best way to end the siege. Rami Younis spoke to Hasan al-Kurd, one of the leaders of the march about the successes, mistakes, and future of the movement. 

While everyone this past week focused on Israeli police officers breaking the leg of Jafar Farah, a prominent Palestinian political activist from Haifa, I could not help but think of someone else’s leg — that of Hasan al-Kurd’s brother-in-law, in Gaza.

Two months ago, during the first Friday protest of the Great Return March, I spoke at length to al-Kurd, one of the march’s organizers. We had kept in touch after I conducted an interview with him in the run-up to the events, which began on March 30th. On that Friday, I called al-Kurd several times for updates. One call ended abruptly; I tried to dial him again, to no avail. There was no response until the evening.  

When I finally managed to get hold of him, he began by apologizing profusely. He sounded broken, asking that I refrain from quoting him at length. He also revealed why our call had been cut off: an Israeli sniper shot his brother-in-law, who was standing right next to him. When I asked why he preferred that I do not mention it in my interview, he responded by saying that “neither I nor my family are the issue here.”

Today, seven weeks later, al-Kurd feels more comfortable speaking about his brother-in-law and others wounded, whom he knows personally. “My brother-in-law is fine, he is a strong man,” he says with his typically optimistic tone. “He cannot walk on that foot nor can he work, but he will be okay.”

Al-Kurd, 43, is a schoolteacher who lives with his wife and their six children near central Gaza, in an area he refers to as “mixed.” “There are many refugees as well as regular residents, but this is not a refugee camp,” he tells me. During our conversation I learn that the son of al-Kurd’s neighbors, a 10-year-old who plays with his children, was shot in his leg last Monday, and remains hospitalized in serious condition due to severe blood loss.

“They shot him in the knee, and the bullet...

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Gaza 'Return March' organizer: 'We'll ensure it doesn't escalate to violence — on our end'

Palestinians in Gaza are planning 45 days of protests along the border with Israel leading up to the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, and they fear Israeli troops may open fire. One of the organizers speaks to +972 Magazine about why he believes hundreds of thousands of people will show up, and what message he’d like to send to Israelis.

A few minutes before I spoke with Hasan al-Kurd Monday night, Israel’s prime-time nightly news led with story about the march of return al-Kurd and other Palestinian activists in Gaza are planning along the border of the besieged territory this Friday — and how security officials believe their plans to stop the march will result in Palestinian casualties.

The Israeli media has been abuzz for the past several weeks about the march and the army’s plans for stopping tens of thousands of people reaching the border fence. In an oped in Haaretz this week, a former Israeli military spokesperson warned of the optics of “innocent marchers, women, children and men, longing to return to their homes, fired upon by heavily-armed Israeli soldiers.”

According to the Channel 2 broadcast on Monday, Israel’s cabinet has been discussing “out-of-the-box” ideas. One minister proposed “parachuting food and medicine, maybe via drones, deeper into Gaza, and hopefully that will encourage the Palestinian civilians to go toward the food that was dropped from the sky instead of heading to the fence.”

Al-Kurd is amused when I tell him what I’ve just heard on the news. “We anticipated they’d try that,” he says, jokingly. We laugh, and say that maybe they should plan more marches and initiatives along the Gaza border — to convince Israel to ease the siege and relieve some of the suffering in Gaza.

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Al-Kurd, a 43-year-old school teacher and father of six from Gaza, is one of 20 organizers of the planned march, which is actually a 45-day event starting this Friday, Land Day, and culminating on May 15, Nakba Day. Seventy percent of the population of Gaza are refugees, meaning they or their parents or grandparents fled or were expelled from towns, villages, and cities inside the territory that became in Israel in 1948, an event known as the Nakba. They have never been allowed to return.

The plan is to set up camps between 700-1000 meters from...

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